Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and about Mayakovsky

Vladimir Mayakovsky, Author, Michael Almereyda, Editor
Vladimir Mayakovsky, Author, Michael Almereyda, Editor Farrar Straus Giroux $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-28135-9
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
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The volatile young poet rose to prominence as a coauthor of the Russian Futurist manifesto A Slap in the Face of Public Taste in 1912; the next five years saw the explosive sexual boasting and the fragmentary lines of such poems as A Cloud in Pants, experimental plays and even participation in important Russian modernist filmmaking. An enemy of tradition in all its forms, the moody, energetic Vladimir Mayakovsky supported the Soviet revolution wholeheartedly, writing a poem called 150,000,000 in support of the Soviet army. Yet the passionate poet became worn down by the grind of his personal life and by Stalins assault on something dear to himmodern art. Mayakovsky shot himself in 1930, and his subsequent canonization by the U.S.S.R. made him a figure of ambivalence even for Russians who liked his daring verse. Mixing well-translated poems with bits from Mayakovskys short autobiography ""I, Myself"", excerpts from memoirs (by the likes of Osip Mandelstam and Francine du Plessix Gray) and short bits from critics writings, Almereyda attempts to give Mayakovsky a new audience. Alas, the bits may be too short to sustain readers interest, and the anthologylike the poets lifeseems choppy, confusing and finished all too fast. ""(Apr.)"" .
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